As I head into the New Year I am realizing there is a shift in my healing from my abusive marriage. What is the shift? I am laughing at my ex. Yes you read that correctly, I am laughing at my ex.
I used to live in a world that was full of fear. My ex enjoyed terrorizing me, raping me, physically abusing me and our son and abusing my daughters in ways that I cannot put into words. I feared him. A lot. He liked that I was afraid and that I was hurting. Even my Lawyer, from talking to him, noted that my ex really enjoyed knowing I was in pain over what he had done. As our family doctor put it in Court, my ex is mentally unwell and is an undiagnosed Sociopath. So yes I have had every right to fear him.
So why am I laughing? Well I am laughing because my ex can no longer hurt me. His only contact is his pathetic bashing of me online. I will admit when I first found out he was attacking me on-line my PTSD kicked in and I was……well unsettled. Knowing he reads my facebook page or this blog used to bug me. I did not want him to be able to touch any part of my life. Now though……well now I really do not care. I see what he says online and I see it as pathetic and extremely predictable. Abusers will do this when you leave. They will trash your name (see my blog The Smear Campaign) to deflect from what they have done and they will watch you online because they still think of you as their property and something they own. This is what they do. Now that you know that and I know that it almost makes what they are doing pathetic don’t you think? There is nothing special in their actions, they are simply like every other hum drum abuser (is that too crass??!!) It kind of takes away their power doesn’t it? Well it certainly has for me.
So to my ex, and all of his minions who also follow me online, read away. I hope you have fun going over what I write, how I share what he did and in turn empower other Survivors to break free. Please enjoy my work. I’ll just be over here in the corner laughing at your predictability.
My ex has never shown any remorse for what he has done. He has never taken any responsibility. In fact he is quick to blame me for what happened in our marriage. This is classic abusive behaviour. Waiting to forgive my ex till he says sorry is like sitting and watching paint dry. I know I will be waiting for a very long time. I don’t want that long. I want to be free.
Forgiveness. Forgiveness is hard especially when you are trying to forgive someone who has hurt you so deeply. I wrestle with forgiving my ex for what he did to me and our children. In fact this is an issue that I often pray about and have been working through with my family Priest. Let me tell you that this has not been easy. I loved this man purely and all he did was turn evil on me. How does one forgive that? How do you forgive someone who raped you, terrorized you, threatened you and hurt your children? How to do you forgive someone who doesn’t appear to take responsibility for what he has done, let alone be sorry for it? That is what I have been exploring because I do believe it is integral to my healing to forgive.
Forgiving my ex does not mean I have to let him back into my life. Forgiveness means that I no longer need to carry what he did to me. I can offer it up to God and ask God to deal with my ex in his Godly ways. In that I can find peace and I can move forward.
I am reminded of the Bible story about the prodigal son. He has left father with his inheritance and caused much destruction. Upon the sons return his father embraced him before he even knows if his son is sorry. He loves and forgives his son not because his son has earned his forgiveness, but because God asks us to love our neighbours as ourselves and in that love is forgiveness.
In following the Commandment; Love your neighbour as yourself, I am asked as a Christian to love my ex as I love myself. I have been working hard at loving myself. Let me say that loving myself has not been an easy idea or act for me to do. When you are in an abusive relationship your self worth will be attacked by your abuser in order to weaken you. The abuse will weaken your self esteem and you will start to believe all the horrible things your abuser says about you. My ex called me many horrible names, especially in the final years of our marriage. Whore, idiot, stupid, bitch and slut were among his favourites. Over time I believed I was those names. By the time I left the relationship I did not believe I was capable of anything worthwhile and it took a supportive group of family, friends and my faith in God to help me see that I was not any of the names he called me. In time I remembered that I am a child of God, that I am worthwhile and that I have so many beautiful qualities. I began to love myself. Now that I value me, now that I love me I find God asking me to follow His Commandment and love my ex. Not as a lover, but as a child of God and in that love there is forgiveness.
My ex has never shown any remorse for what he has done. He has never taken any responsibility. In fact he is quick to blame me for what happened in our marriage. This is classic abusive behaviour. Waiting to forgive my ex till he says sorry is like sitting and watching paint dry. I know I will be waiting for a very long time. I don’t want that long. I want to be free. So what is next? Well in the words of Matthew West’s song “Forgiveness” (that I will leave you with) I am learning to love the unlovable and asking God to help me with the impossible; forgiving my ex. May your journey bring you peace.
It’s Boxing Day and I don’t know about you, but I am Exhausted. Another Christmas Day has come and gone. For me the day was a busy and overall a good day. It was the first year that my 7am alarm was what woke my family up! I was surprised, but then again my youngest is now 10 years old so perhaps the 4 am – creeping – into – my -room -to -see -if -I -am -awake -and -can -we -open -presents moments have come to an end. Sigh. Anyways my day started with our little family opening our gifts, followed by prepping for Christmas supper, a nap, feeding my horse and then supper with my fiancé’s sister and family. It sounds pretty nice doesn’t it? It was, but then why did I end the day quietly crying in the dark in the quiet of my living room?
Recovery from abuse sucks and it’s suckiness can creep up on you at the most inopportune times. For me it was late on Christmas Day night. I find when holidays come memories of the past creep into my mind. This year they were not as powerful as they had been in the past. I did not have any full blown flashbacks or panic attacks. They were more like an annoying tap on my shoulder saying, “hey do you remember me?” My response was, “yes I remember, but you will not have a hold on me today” and I just kept swatting them away. I was pretty proud of myself, yet still I ended up in tears.
PTSD is not an easy road. You are constantly on high alert. Adrenaline is pumping through your body as your whole being prepares to fight or flee. Your heart is always racing, as are your thoughts and it is bloody exhausting. You are constantly on the lookout for danger. I need to remember that all of that was happening to me underneath the Christmas supper prepping and present opening. I often forget that in my recovery. I carry forward like I do not have PTSD and think that I should be able to function like I don’t have any disabilities, but I do have them. They are often unseen to the outside world but they are there. So really, is it any surprise that before my guests had left I had collapsed on my couch and was later crying in the dark? I think not. My nervous system had a lot to process yesterday; extra people in my house which would result in my whole being subconsciously assessing whether I was safe. I also had those annoying memories tapping me on the shoulder. I will be honest I was also trying really hard not to let anyone know I was going through all of this. So yes I do understand why in the end I ended up in tears.
I love my family, both extended and non extended. They are a huge part of my life and I would not change having these gatherings. I am glad I was able to see everyone yesterday. Upon reflection I just have to be mindful of my disabilities and perhaps be more open with my family as to what I am going through. Save myself from collapsing at the end of the night. Communication with loved ones is key as you recover from abuse and battle PTSD. You need a good support system to make it through the good and bad times. At the end of the night, as I cried, I was grateful for two people in my support system; my fiancé and my oldest daughter. My daughter heard me crying and came into the living room to see if I was ok. At that point I could not put it into words so we just sat together and then my fiancé joined us. They both held my hands and we chatted about everything and nothing all in one. It was a blessed moment. My fiancé reminded me that in this family we always have each others backs and that I am loved. I will get through this battle and my friends so will you.
Peace and Blessings to all of you during this Holiday Season.
The Smear Campaign. Ugh. If you are a Survivor of abuse expect your name to be smeared by your abuser. It’s an ugly part of the game that abusers play, but I have learned, a very expected one.
When you are being abused your abuser wants you to live in a world of silence. They, for obvious reasons, do not want anyone to know that they are hurting you. If anyone finds out they could be in a heap of trouble legally and would probably lose friends and family and possibly their job. They have a lot to lose so they will do whatever it takes to protect themselves and that includes smearing the name of their victim. It’s all about deflection.
Deflection is a move that many of us learn as children. For example your child breaks the heirloom gift Great Aunt Susie gave when they were born. As a parent you are upset and the child is afraid of what the consequences will be if they tell you the truth. Instead they make up a story and blame the dog. Suddenly the dog is being punished and being told it is a bad dog. Everyone is so busy scolding the dog that no one looks to the child anymore. They may even feel sorry for your child. Abusers are experts at deflection. Under no circumstance do they want anyone looking directly at them for what has gone wrong. It is always someone else`s fault, mainly yours and they will make sure everyone remembers how `bad`you are by smearing your name.
My ex has recently taken to social media to smear my name. He has started to publicly call me a liar, accuse me of parental alienation and that he is my victim. I have watched this from afar and I`ll be honest I do not expect anything less of him. He is an abuser and this is what abusers do. They smear their victims name so that others feel sorry for them and don`t look at the damage they have caused. It is classic textbook abuser behaviour. If anything his online behaviour proves once more that he is an abuser.
So, if your abuser starts to smear your name take a deep breath. Know that this is part of their abusive behaviour, but you are better than this childish behaviour. Remember that you know the truth and deep down so do they. They can deflect all they want, but in the quiet of the night I will guarantee they are the ones having trouble falling asleep. They know that they hurt you and your children in unspeakable ways and they have to live with that. You, on the other hand, can heal. You can and will rise above all of this. You can be happy and most importantly you CAN be free of their abuse.
It has now been 18 months since my rape trial against my ex. There have been 18 months of sadness, frustration, confusion, shock, anger, fear and horror at the whole process. Being raped is soul shattering. To have someone reach into your soul, touch it and rip it to pieces, leaving you feeling empty and lost, is devastating. To have that person be your husband and the father of your children is…..beyond heartbreaking. Everything you have ever believed is tested and shattered. Who you are is questioned by you, late at night when all is quiet. You wonder if you could ever let anyone touch you again? Would they want to? Are you damaged now? Can you trust anyone ever again? These are the questions that mill around your head at night. You can’t sleep, you can’t eat, you can’t focus, everything that was normal before seems like a lie. Your whole life seems like one big lie.
You try to find peace. You think that if you report what happened you will receive justice and peace will come with that. You go to your local RCMP Detachment and you tell a Constable what he did to you. You sit in a room talking about your privates and his privates with a complete stranger, but you do it because there WILL be justice, right?
Sorry to say that, but sadly it is true. I was naively led to believe that there would be Justice. I am here to tell you that that was a lie and for most Survivors of a sexual assault it is a lie for them too. Our Legal System (It is not a Justice System. It is a system that foll0ws the laws, not about vindicating someone) in Sexual Assault trials is not about focusing on what the perpetrator did. Instead it is a system that looks at the victim, at their actions and in reality the victim is the one on trial. Again I was completely naïve to this going into my trial. Here are things that I wish I had been told.
- In Canada you are not the one charging your perpetrator (rapist) with rape. You report your assault and an officer will relay your report to a Crown Prosecutor (usually while you are still in the detachment) and if the Prosecutor thinks they have a chance at winning a case against the perpetrator then they will be charged. If they feel they cannot win then no charges will be laid.
- Your life will completely turn upside down once those charges are laid. For me the RCMP needed to figure out where and how they would arrest my ex. He lived in another city but came to a city near me, monthly, to see our children at a Supervised visit. The RCMP decided that they would set my ex up for a visit. Instead of my children going into the visitation room they were pulled into a side room and hidden from view. The RCMP then walked into the visitation room instead and arrested my ex. Once he was gone I was called to come and get my kids which I did. I also moved towns right after that. Given the level of violence in my marriage I was advised to move and temporarily go into hiding until they could get all of the proper restraining orders put into place by a Judge. Now for you it may not go that way. I cannot predict that, but let me tell you I was not prepared for this when I first went into the detachment.
- In Canada it will take a long time to get this through the legal system. It will take at least two years on average. First there will be a hearing.
- At the hearing you and any other witnesses will be questioned by both the Prosecutor and the Defence Lawyer. Your rapist will also be there. Per Canadian Law everyone is given a fair trial and they are to be present to hear everything said about them. Being in front of him will probably through you off. Prepare for that. Know that you do not have to look at him. Keep your eyes on whomever is asking the questions. Trust me when I say that your rapist and his Lawyer are hoping that his presence will rattle you and cause you to stumble in your testimony, Please don’t let them get to you. Hold your head high!
- After the hearing the Judge will decide if there is enough evidence for a trial. There does not have to be a lot of evidence for a trial to happen. Most go to trial.
- Due to the overload in our Legal System it will probably be another year for your trial. Waiting will becoming draining. You will want it all to be over. Know that your day in Court will come. In the meantime try your best to look after you so you can heal.
- Just when you think you are in a better place you will be called to trial and you will have to share your story again to a room full of strangers. This will rip open old wounds. Make sure you have a good support system and that you look after yourself during this time.
- Some trials are Judge only. Some are Jury trials. Which way it will be is decided by the Defence Lawyer. The Prosecutor has no say in this.
- There will be games played in the Court Room. The Prosecutor is held to a high level of decorum. This comes from the Crown. They must act respectful and keep their questions clean and above board. The Defence, on the other hand, is not held to this same level. Heck they are not held to any level. They can make snide c0mments, yell at y0u, have temper tantrums, make up lies and no one will bat an eye, not even the Judge (well maybe some Judges do say something but they are very few and far between). The Prosecutor CANNOT warn you ab0ut this behaviour ahead of time. They will probably tell you that the Defence Lawyer may not be nice, but to just remember that he is representing his client and to be respectful. In actuality they know and the Judge knows that the Defence will probably pull some bad punches but no one is allowed to prepare you for that.
- The Defence Lawyer will be ruthless and it will feel like you are on the one on trial not the perpetrator. Your actions pre and post the rape will be scrutinised. What you wore, what you said and how you acted in the moments coming up to the rapes and definitely the ones after the rape will be examined. You will need to justify everything you said and did. Like I said you will feel like you are the one on trial. You see, unfortunately, our Legal System has a premade image of how a rape victim is supposed to act and if you do not fall into that then you must be a liar. It is terrible. It is wrong on so many levels and very traumatizing. Please let me tell you that everyone acts differently after they have been raped. No one can predict how you will react nor can they judge you on how you act. The Defense Lawyer is doing this type of questioning to try and break you. Be aware of that. Answer each question honestly and do your best to not react to their games. Another game that they will do is ask you the same question three times, each time a little bit differently trying to get the answer that they want. Be aware of this and answer each question the same each time.
- Your rapist may not take the stand. That is their legal rite in Canada. If they do, do not expect them to be treated like you were. Remember the Prosecutor must act at a level of decorum and the Defence will have practised every question with your perp to make him look innocent. In my trial I was on the stand for two days. My ex was on the stand for maybe 30 minutes.
- There may be back room deals. There was in my trial between the Prosecutor and the Defence and I was completely unaware of it. I watched it play out though and I saw the moment when the Prosecutor realized he had been played by the Defence. I saw him scramble when he realized their agreement was never real and that it was highly unlikely the Crown was going to win.
- Lastly there is you. You who has gone through unimaginable trauma. You who has found the courage to come forward. You who has answered personal questions that no one should have to answer publically. Your whole life has been on display. It hurts and you may wonder how you will survive this, but let me tell you that you WILL SURVIVE! Y0u will make it through this. You might have a complete breakdown (I did) and that is ok. It is ok to get all of your feelings out. Know that on the other side of the wailing and the anger you will come out of this stronger. You will know that in the end, despite all of the games and all of the pain you did the right thing. You held him accountable for all to see and that, that is a victory all in itself.
Often, in my work with Survivors of Domestic Violence, I hear stories about how they are re-victimized or they try to be. Sometimes I have even heard from their current partners (who are not abusive) who say, “She keeps poking at me. Trying to start a fight and wanting me to hit her! Why? I have never hit a woman!” This got me thinking as to why some Survivors do this, more to the point why have I done it?
When you live in an abusive relationship you live in a constant world of chaos. You “walk on egg shells” wondering when will the next explosion be? Your whole world revolves around your abuser. You cater to his (or her) needs. All simply because you want to keep the beast happy and not suffer more abuse. The abuse does happen though, you never know when and over time this constant chaos attacks your self worth. You start to believe your abuser when he (or she) says that you deserve the abuse. That they wouldn’t have to treat you this way if you just behaved better. You never give up trying to please them and your internal compass is gauged by their behaviour. You lose yourself.
At one time I lost myself. I married a man who abused me physically, sexually, financially, verbally and emotionally. I lived in a world where I was paralyzed by fear. Every decision I made had my abuser in mind. Would this upset him? Will he yell at me (or worse)? I did not make decisions based on my own wants and needs. They were based on what kept him happy. That was how I survived.
After 15 years of abuse I finally broke free and separated from husband. I was over the moon! I no longer lived with daily abuse. I was free! In time I started to date again and eventually became engaged to a wonderful man. A man who would never intentionally hurt me. A man whom I felt safe with. We have a good relationship. We are equal partners and neither of us try to have control over the other like in an abusive relationship. So then why have I felt the need to create a situation where he might abuse me? Why would I want to go back there? This question puzzled me for quite awhile. Let me tell you what I realized.
I realized that I created situations with an unconscious desire to be abused. I did this because one, deep down my low self esteem had me believing that abuse is what I deserve. Two abuse was familiar. I knew how to exist in the chaos of abuse. After 15 years of abuse I no longer knew h0w to gauge my day to day life without abuse happening. Here’s an example.
When I started dating my now fiancé we planned a birthday party for me. Well more like he did with my kids. I was excited, but a little nervous. I had not had a nice birthday celebration (without abuse) in years. “Did I deserve one?” was my internal question. I woke the morning of my birthday to my house decorated with balloons and streamers. Everyone sang “Happy Birthday” to me and I even had breakfast in bed! It was a lovely morning. Then my fiancé and I went out for lunch. Now that was not as fun. I basically chewed him out the whole time and every little thing that he said to calm me down made me even more angry. After lunch we were driving to an appointment and I kept poking at him, pushing for a fight. At one point I even jumped out of our car (at a red light) and walked to my appointment in a furry crying my eyes out. Now you are probably wondering what my problem was. I know my fiancé was and to be honest so was I. I did not understand what was going on inside of me. This started to happen every holiday and birthday. Then it started to happen on normal days. I would pick at him until we fought. Guess what, once he yelled back I felt calm. What???? Yes I felt calm.
Chaos, fighting, abuse, whatever you want to call it is what I knew for 15 years. It is what I thought I deserved so when he finally yelled back I felt calm because suddenly I was in a familiar world again. I understood this world and I could function in it. Crazy uh? That is re-victimization and something so many Survivors do to themselves. It’s not that we really want to be hurt again, but it is what we know and until we have a stronger self esteem it is what we think we are worthy of. For me the holidays and birthdays were a huge trigger because my ex always abused me worse on those days. So to have a birthday where balloons were hung for me and I was given breakfast in bed was, well it was completely foreign to me and it scared the hell out of me.
In time, as I healed, I recognized the unhealthy pattern and I started to re-victimize myself less. It helps that my fiancé also recognizes when I am trying to re-victimize myself and we name it. I now know that I do not deserve to be abused. I do deserve balloons on my birthday and so much more!! I am also learning to trust an abuse free life.
Recovery from abuse is a journey full of bumps and yes there are victories. Times where you heal and move forward. If you recognize the re-victimization pattern in yourself or someone you love name it. Acknowledge what is happening. Talk it through with someone you trust. Change can happen once we see what needs to be done.